Pathways to Progress

Pathways to progress

Leading industry experts shared their thoughts on the future of the Australian supply chain and logistics industry at a recent SCLAA event, discussing challenges and potential solutions to increase career growth and connections in this vital sector.

At the recent Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA) event, “Pathways to Progress: Uniting Supply Chain Professionals for Career Growth and Connections,” leading figures in the industry engaged in an enlightening panel discussion. The dialogue centered around the pressing issues of workforce management, automation, diversity, and economic conditions, all of which are currently shaping the future of the Australian supply chain industry.

Moderated by Theo Pappas, Victorian State President of the SCLAA, the discussion included contributions from Joe Sette, Managing Partner at Miller Leith, Michelle Arnold, Human Resources Manager at Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Phil Caris, VP Human Resources Asia Pacific at Lineage, and Dr. Hadi Ghaderi, Associate Professor at Swinburne University of Technology.

One significant point of discussion was the evolving working conditions in the supply chain industry, including the potential for a four-day working week. Phil Caris of Lineage Logistics said their trial of this approach “greatly improved work-life balance,” leading him to believe this condition would become a permanent change. Echoing Phil’s sentiment, Joe Sette argued that a four-day week would “significantly boost the appeal” of businesses that adopted it early. In the academic arena, Hadi pointed out that the impact of this shift on supply chain productivity remained an intriguing point of consideration.

Attendees at Pathways to Progress enjoyed an evening of networking before the panel discussion.
Attendees at Pathways to Progress enjoyed an evening of networking before the panel discussion.

Another critical challenge the industry faces is attracting younger talent into operational roles. Joe stated the need to show millennials the potential for progression to incentivise them to enter the sector. Moreover, Hadi highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships between companies and academic institutions to develop the talent pipeline effectively.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the panelists underscored the increasing importance of automation and robotics in supply chain operations. Michelle Arnold from Saint Gobain noted their output had significantly increased thanks to the replacement of outdated machinery with modern robotics. Yet, Phil Caris noted the labour shortage had forced his organisation to accelerate capital expansion plans despite automation’s challenges.

Addressing concerns over a potential skills gap as automation becomes more prevalent, Joe pointed to the growth of relevant university degrees such as mechatronics, robotics, and electronic engineering. He did, however, caution that a skills shortage may still persist for the next five years. Phil added an interesting note, discussing instances when traditional logistics knowledge became critical during system failures, emphasising the need for capacity planning and crisis management skills when automation fails.

The panelists also stressed the importance of broadening the employee value proposition to retain talent in a competitive labour market. Flexibility, health and life insurance, and work-life balance emerged as key factors in addition to salary. As Michelle put it, “Let’s use flexibility as a tool.”

Keep in touch with SCLAA for more exciting industry events.
Keep in touch with SCLAA for more exciting industry events.

In terms of diversity, both Michelle and Phil agreed that flexible hours and a focus on skills, rather than gender as a sole criterion, were crucial to attract and retain more women in the industry.

Discussing the in-demand roles and skills in the industry, Joe noted a keen interest in roles that can help reduce costs, while Michelle emphasised the importance of tradespeople for manufacturing facilities.

In closing, the panelists shared their key takeaways. Phil emphasised adaptability and resilience, while Michelle underlined the importance of investing in people. Meanwhile, Joe reiterated the significance of a strong Employee Value Proposition that extends beyond salary.

The insightful discussion at the SCLAA event underscores the dynamic nature of the supply chain and logistics industry and the need for innovation and adaptability to navigate future challenges. 

Theo, concluding the discussion, noted the importance of SCLAA in promoting such discussions to help industry in their navigations.

For more information on the Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Australia, click here

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